Marvel Comics
Newuniversal: Shockwave #1
By Zak Edwards
May 19, 2008 - 15:03

Marvel Comics
Writer(s): Warren Ellis
Penciller(s): Steve Kurth
Inker(s): Andrew Hennessy
Colourist(s): Chris Chuckry
Letterer(s): Rus Wooton
Cover Artist(s): Steve Kurth

After months and months of Newuniversal not completing its initial story arc, writer Warren Ellis returns to this new universe to finish what he started.  Do not be fooled by the number one placed on this apparently new series, this comic book is a continuation of the Newuniversal series from last year.  That being said, the majority of this issue simply acts as an introduction to Ellis’ story while introducing a few more characters for him to play around with.

The story takes place two weeks after the last Newuniversal issue, with little changing from that time to now.  It appears that the events within Newuniversal are as slow as the actual comic book’s pacing which has been a problem since the beginning.  Little is developed in this issue, plot-wise.  This comes as no surprise, but only about half of the characters in Ellis’ ensemble cast are recapped and this rises concern to the next issue being of a similar vein to the ignored half, slowing the plot down to almost literally backwards, if not complete standstill.  This issue maintains the strengths of the former series, making a world dealing with the emergence of super-humans for the first time feel very real and yet different from our own.  Warren Ellis stages the political state of the world with a brief, ignored news report stating the tensions between the superpower of China and the the United States for deploying a nuclear weapon in a ‘training exercise.’  These types of statements allow Ellis to discuss not just the little place of his characters, but the entire world which he has created.  This approach worked very well in the Ultimates and could be used to the same effectiveness in Newuniversal, but the staggeringly slow pace may prove to making this book a poor choice.  Characterization is good, with different characters reacting in different ways.  Iznami, the “Nightmask,” is trying to get on with her life while figuring out what to do while Kenneth “Starbrand” Connell sits in a stoic silence in front of a television.  The other characters are not seen, but John “Justice” Tensen is discussed by some police officers as still on his killing spree.  Jennifer Swann is assumed to still be hitting the bottle while creating a machine to kill her, but is never even mentioned, as are the archeologists exploring the newly discovered ruins.  Overall, this issue is containing the same weaknesses and strengths as the series that ended last year, very slow pacing but as a comic book approaching a world discovering the existence of superhumans for the first time, Ellis has created a believable and approachable book.

With the new series, a new artist has started working on Newuniversal.  Replacing Salvador Larocca’s photo-referencing is Steve Kurth.  Kurth is not using this photo-referencing technique of Larocca, who made many of the main characters look like popular Hollywood stars like Bruce Willis and Angelina Jolie.  His pencils are enjoyable, with very expressive faces working well with a story heavy on the dialogue and light on the action.  I also enjoyed his use of shading, it stood out as being very effective in conveying tone without swallowing the page in black.  The colour palette has changed as well, choosing a bolder colour set that replaces the last issues.  These colours create a more comic book feel, taking away from the realism present in Larocca’a panels.  The art is effective overall, with little to complain about a a few panels to point out as working very well.

7.5/10    Newuniversal gets a new title, but keeps the same strengths and weaknesses.

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